Models sashayed down runways at the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in late November 2004, showcasing collections from 20 designers around the world.

Meanwhile, in a Rio de Janeiro shanty town, the 150 craftswomen of the Coopa-Roca initiative create unique fashion and home products using traditional Brazilian forms of crochet, knotting and patchwork.

And in Ventura, California, an outdoor clothing company called
Patagonia sells warm, colourful fleece vests, jackets (like the one
below right) and trousers all made from recycled plastic soda
bottles and hemp.

Sustainable style is catching on - from catwalks to sidewalks across the globe, people are turning to fashion that respects the social and natural environment that it comes from.

People who love haute couture, grunge or outerwear can all now dress to be both cutting edge and ethically conscious. Some purchase vintage outfits from second-hand shops,while others order clothes made from recycled materials over the Internet. Some may select the latest trends from upscale boutiques; many more sew original creations by hand.

Increasingly people are starting to consider the life behind the product as well as appearance, quality and price in their quest for personal style. They learn who made the item, and out of what materials. In response, a growing number of people in the fashion industry are working to produce clothes and accessories that are simultaneously beautiful, socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

 

Organically grown cotton, linen and other fibres are now available: choosing natural fabrics means they will biodegrade at the end of their useful lives.

Sustainable living need not be bland. With creativity and craftsmanship, individual tastes can thrive. The Seattle-based Sustainable Style Foundation (SSF) encourages people from all walks of life to 'look fabulous, live well and do good'. It says that true style is an expression of imagination and individuality, rather than a cycle of conformity and consumerism.

More and more people see clothes as a way of letting those around them know who they are and what they stand for. They don't need to choose T-shirts with bold slogans across the chest. From feathered fedoras to wool beanies, top hats to baseball caps, sustainability wears many hats. So let sustainable - and individual - style shine through.

 
         
 

 

Erzsebct Szilagyi, 18, Hungary
'Second-hand shops are wonderful because you can buy unique,
fashionable clothing, like this shirt - that you might not be able to find in
regular stores - at affordable prices. All you have to do is use your imagination and lots of creativity to create your own style!'

 

 

Gary Ang, 19, United States
'With a good eye and a good thrift store, $20 can go a long, long way! It's not like any other store-buying experience - you have to be willing to hunt around for the right sizes and styles. But I'm happy with my purchases and before long I'm sure I'll be back for more!'

 
         
         
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